Museum (2019) review
We're living in an age where everybody collects something .Whether it be stamps, beer bottle tops, pictures of the Queen or board games. Museum curators have been doing it for decades. Relying on everything everybody did in the past to create a collection of assorted Nik Naks. And if this job interests you, you will have the chance to live this dream, in a game aptly named Museum.
There is a "how to play" video lower down
This is the first “in house” game from publisher Holy Grail, designed by it’s co-owner Olivier Melison and a colleague designers and historian, Eric Dubus. And it won't be the last, as they have already designed and successfully Kickstartered “Dominations.” And if this game is anything to go by, then this is a pair of designers to look out for if you love beautiful-looking, Euro style games with a historical background.
So let's start off by talking about how gorgeous this game looks. Most of that is down to the wonderful art of Vincent Dutrait, who's work seems to stand out in the world of board games. His work shines through on all of the 180 individual relectcs and items cards in the game. And the only reason that items get put in a museum is because they look beautiful. And in fact, some this art should be on a wall in a museum, somewhere. It’s these cards that are the heart of the game. As you are set collecting. Items, objects, inventions and locations from 9 Civilizations around the world are depicted on these cards. And not just with these two. All colour coordinated on your card to make it easy to collect the sets... supposedly. When you have two civilisations that have almost the same name (Polynesian & Phoenician in this case) and they are two different tones of blue, you may find yourself collecting the wrong set. And it has happened, not just with these two.
But it won't be only Civilizations that you'll be collecting. You may be collecting domains like pottery, Warfare will navigation. Sometimes you may be doing a little of both. Depending on your patreon that you choose at the beginning of the game. You will choose this patreon from a small hand of cards which are objective cards that will give you a bonus point for the collections at the end of the game. And there are quite a number of them in the game. Which is good, although there is the possibility of being dealt the same type of objective, which gives you little choice apart from collect one type of colour. In a two player game, choosing the wrong one will bite you in the butt. More about that later. But there's more to it than just having the right objects in your Museum. I'll delve into that bit later too.
There is a third important piece of information on the cards, which is their value. Values range from 1 to 5 and they work twofold. Firstly, when installed into your Museum, the value is Victory points that you score immediately. The second is as currency. And this is where some of the fun puzzling can be had. You'll start with and start collecting objects from around the world into your hand, to add it to your Museum from your hand, you'll need to discard another object or objects of the same value or higher to pay for this. Don't worry, you won't be sacrificing anything to a bin but rather a discard pile, which I like to call the warehouse. Every player will have a warehouse of their own, which could put some of your objects at risk, as if another player see something they like on their turn they can buy it from you. And you cannot say no. This adds a the little interaction to the game. Because set collection games can normally be a solitary experience. Putting your blinkers on and looking solely at what you've got in front of you. Cards of a value of 5 are called Masterpieces and will gain you a Prestige point. You may be tempted to just fill your Museum with nothing but these items of antiquity, although they won't guarantee you a victory.
Filling your museum and scoring points will be the action that you'll be performing the most on your turn. There is a second action that you can perform which is to do an inventory check. Simply enough, you just collect all the cards in your warehouse and place them back into your hand. A sweet action if played at the right time. Playing with two players, you're probably perform this more times than normal. This is due to the circulation of cards which materialized from your Indiana Jones explorers around the world. Yes, on your turn, you’ll be relying on Dr Jones to bring something back, to go into your Museum. But other players can also collect items on your turn. Which leads to a nice trade off. They may see an object for their collection which they need, or a Masterpiece, but will they justify taking it knowing that they will give you a prestige point. Prestige points are points at the end of the game and currency which players can spend instead of placing items in their warehouse. Or they can do a bit of both, because no one like paying 5 to place an object of 3 in their Museum. Again this part of the game really shines with 4 players, because of the deliberations of either to take a card and give one player extra points is a key part to some players strategy. Plus this moves along the cards quicker from their retrospective decks, meaning you will see more Civilizations and Domains during a four player game rather than a two-player game. If the cards are not moving in the centre of the table, this can stagnate someone strategy. Possibly screwing up their chance of getting bonus points from their patreon. Giving two slightly different feels the same game with different play accounts. But it is not a problem as there is always another strategy or way of squeezing points out of this game.
And there you have it, a very simple game. Add a card from your hand and possibly get some points if other players had a card to their own hands. Then either fill your museum full of objects or empty your warehouse back into your hand. Although there is a deeper aspect to the game. I should say it aspects.
One of them comes from the positioning of your Museum pieces. End of game scoring will have you scoring bonus points for the Civilizations and Domains, as long as they are in adjacent rooms in your Museum, a 5 by 5 grid. So it's not just a typical collect the same colours or saying image type of card game, as once you've collected it you need to appropriately place it on a two-dimensional map. Which can be easy or it can be hard. As each Museum has a double-sided map for players to play with. The hard map doesn’t have corridors linking to all adjacent rooms, meaning your collections maybe snaking from space to space. Like a Labyrinth. This adds a super high level of planning. But not only can you just score points from your layout and collections, there is also special rooms that, if one Domain or Civilisation is contained within all, you get extra points. And if by chance you fill every single space in your Museum, even more points. Does this sound like a point salad?
There are ways to lose points at the end of the game too. In the four decks of continent cards, there will be a number of public opinion cards. At the beginning of the game, players can choose how many of these cards are placed into each deck. I suggest using them all for more fun. They pack a punch in a four player game, whereas in a two-player game, they only sting for a bit. These cards are the negativity from these continents. You are taking their cultural stuff away from them after all. They don't mind that you are trying to show the world their history, but if this stuff of theirs just sits in a warehouse at the end of the game…! There will be consequences. Yes, they will remove a number of points from your score for each of their items stuck in a box and not on display. The more times these cards arrive, the more devastating their sting becomes. Meaning you will be watching what you throw away.
And that is the basics of the game. A little bit economy, a little bit placement, and a little bit of set collection, all from card drafting. Now there are other things that will happen like the headline cards which will change from round to round. They basically effect the continent cards as they arrive or maybe block them from being collected. This adds a tad of laughter, as you see a card you want, but no. Can’t get it this round as there is an embargo. Then there are a favour cards which are helpful to the player playing them and gives them a little boost. Very random in their powers and some seem to be a little more powerful than others. You’ll start with one and gather more every 10 points you score. Incentive to score quicker! And then the experts, that can be purchased and mainly give you an end of game scoring boost. These are just other things outside the main game, but they can change the experience depending on if there is a power on that expert or if they just boost your collection for final scoring. All these cards add a random luck to the game, mixed with the 180 base card and you patreon card, your be adapting your end goal as you play. Nothing is straight forward unless the cards revealed work in your favour.
So in regards to gameplay you have a solid set collecting game, that has a different air to it, due to its theme. There is not a lot of waiting, as you are involved from turn to turn. There are plenty of decisions and choices to be made during the game. This is in part due to the objectives and the final scoring. The scoring is important but not like you think. The game will end when one player passes the 50 point mark. This can happen quite quickly if one player just fills their museum with whatever they have in their hand. And it also adds to the strategy of how much should you play and how much should you hold back. As normally players will be racing to get the highest score, but maybe not here. Being first to cross that line in victory points doesn't guarantee you Victory as with all great games, there is the visible scoring and the end of game hidden scoring. And the 50 point limit does make for quite a short-ish game.
Gameplay is fluent and very self explanatory. This is a game that will appeal to the family gamer, and has enough complexity and depth for an experienced gamer. The great thing is you can dumb the game down by removing the public opinion cards and playing only with the basic Museum layouts or just chuck everything in for a fun time. Again, if playing with kids, let them use the easy map while you use the hard one.
There are 5 expansions for this game, none of which I have touched. Plus some Kickstarter goodies and extras, again untouched. So therefore I cannot comment other than give my opinion on the base game and speculate what the expansions add. For one, there is an automaton player, so you can play solo or bump up your two player game to a three player game. There is fifth player game expansion. A black market, which gets you a illegal goods. A Cthulhu that gives you cursed objects from an illegal god. Another which allows you to add items to a grand show. And another that let you hire multiple Dr Jones's to get you bonuses. In time I will play these and report on them when I do. But in the meantime I am very content with the base game which feels on par to other games of this ilk, like “Ticket to Ride” and “New York 1901.” Although this game has a little deeping gameplay to it.
I've already gushed about the wonderful art but what about the rest of the components. A superd rule book which explains everything and is specially laid out with all its wonderful artwork and it's appendices. The Kickstarter version has some nice sculpted player tokens which seemed oddly reminiscent of the ones in Monopoly. The card quality seems a little plastified and not your traditional card stock. It feels a little strange in your hand but the colours and text still pop from them. Talking of text, all the artefacts have an interesting bit of history about the object themselves. This will obviously submerse the historical geeks a little more deeply into this game. The main boards are solid card and although a little brilliant in colour, maybe a little distracting, function very well. And the players museums are on a thinner card, obviously to lower the weight and size of the box. All these boards and pools of cards will take up a large amount of space on your gaming table, so beware board game cafes. The tokens and nice and chunky although I recall having a little trouble punching them out. With all these components, there is some downtime setting up the game, mainly shuffling cards. This is helped along nicely courtesy of the box insert. The insert has plenty of space for those who like to sleeve their cards or maybe those who wish to place the expansions inside.
Technical score 9.5/10
Solid components (maybe too solid to punch out), all layered in Dutrait’s magical icing. Bizzare card text that I hope lasts as long, or if not longer than standard cards with all the shuffling and handling you’ll do. Storage is spot on, as is the rule book.
My BGG score 8/10
(very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it)
A grandiose family game that stands out with its theme and what you do with your set collections. With a delicate structuring of strategy that will make you play it differently each time. Again, player counts change how the game unfolds and how you play. Best with 3 or 4 and not to long of trek
Combined score 8.75
And now it’s over to you...
how to play
The first thing that hits when you look at the game is the incredible work of Vincent Dutrait. We can not hide that it is also what gives the strength and interest of the game. All the illustrations are different. On this, the game has kept its promises. The game material does not give the same satisfactory. The cards are very thin and seem fragile in the long run. Player boards are only thin sheets, we could have had thick cardboard.
Now, let's tackle the gameplay. First of all, I want to say that I did not have the opportunity to try the extensions. My opinion is therefore only about the basic game. The installation is done fairly quickly and logically enough. There are quite a few modules that can be removed or added to vary the gaming experience and its difficulty. With the luck of the cards, the replayability is quite important. The rules, even if they are badly written and they offer a few moments of blur, are quite simple. Once understood, or adapted, the game is explained quickly. At first glance, this is clearly a family game that can become more complex.
The game is nice, simple to play and the rounds are connected rather well. Depending on the number of players, the experience will not be the same. A two, you can find that card decks do not turn enough. Some variations exist to make the experience better. The interaction is quite present without being aggressive. The event cards bring a little unexpectedness that is rather interesting. Museum has good arguments and good ideas (sometimes not quite well exploited).
However, the game seems to suffer from a relatively limited mechanical replayability. Even if at the material level and component, you can have a large replayability and more and more important discoveries, at the level of pure gameplay, the game is quite repetitive if you chained the games back to back. In addition, unless you have participated in KS, the cost of buying the extensions is quickly expensive just to boost interest.
Thematic level, you’ll quickly forget the museum aspect to focus on the collection aspect. Yet some points in tring to hang on to it through the explanations of the objects (who read them all honestly?), Or the plan of your museum (you’ll quickly focus on how it brings you points, that something else), or the events. Symbols or colors will naturally attract your attention more than managing a museum and rekindling the crowds with your finds. As a reminder, you are still a wealthy owner plundering all civilizations in search of their historical treasures to gain world renown ...
The game is clearly not bad, but it will not leave you with an unforgettable memory either. However, once installed, you will usually spend a good time around the table. If you like this style of play, you will not be disappointed. It's simple, easy going, beautiful, with a wide variety of effects and cards.
Technical Score: 8/10
What is added to the score is Vincent Dutrait's exemplary work on illustrations. There is clearly a problem of detail and finish with regard to the components.
My BGG score: 6/10
(OK - will play if in the mood)
A good family game, easy to install. But there is a feeling of repetitiveness, a mechanics that takes the theme and some rule flaws (and that can be equal to some cards?). To be tried with the expansions to see if the score remains ...
Combined score: 7/10
Now it's your turn.
Gorus Maximus (2018) Review
Gorus Maximus is a card game published by Inside Up Games. Coming from the 2018 Kickstarter, the game went to retail at Essen the same year. The designer, Conor McGoey brings with this game a revisit of the traditional Trick Taking game.
Let's dive into the theme of the game. Close your eyes and here you are in Ancient Rome, in 66 B.C. more exactly. To satisfy the people and to win the favor of the crowd, rich patricians decide to organize the most bloody games ever made: the Gorus Maximus. You play as people who are power hungry. Do not we say: "a happy crowd, is a crowd conquered"? To become the most influential politician, you call on the best Lanistes (gladiator owners and coaches) of the Republic. They are eager to offer you their best gladiators but also their most cruel and hungry animals to ensure a good show. Now set up the game and may the best Lanistes win?
The first thing that surprises with this game is the graphics. The very violent and gore bias fits perfectly with the desire to thematize the game. As such, Kwanchai Moriya (Catacombs (Third Edition), Dinosaur Island) brings his personal touch. The game wants to be family style, the illustrator chose to keep the desired on the gore side, while the sweetener with a cartoon style more than assumed. This results in a fun rendition, bloody but not disturbing. It's beautiful and colorful without being overloaded.
The game in itself plunges you back into the traditional game of Trick Taking. It will make you very quickly think of the Belote for example. On the program, you have five schools of sixteen gladiators. Each school corresponds to a color (or a symbol). Each gladiator has a number ranging from 0 to 16. Not all cards will be played at each game. The setting up depends on the number of players. The more you are, the more cards will be there.
Each player will have a ten card hand. The first player will play a card of their choice. It will become the favorite school of the moment, in other words, the trump. Like any Trick Taking, the trump is the strongest card and must be played unless you lack it’s color for example. Continue until all players have played a card. In each round, the one who won the previous trick starts the new one. At the end of a round, you’ll count the points. Whoever has the most, wins a favor from the crowd. The first to have three wins the game. Simple, no?
Yes... But without counting the talent of the author. Gorus Maximus has a twist that will upset the established order. In your turn, you are obliged to play a card of the same color as the first played. Unless you put a card of the same value (and therefore not necessarily the same color). There is a change of mood in the audience. The favorite school changes in favor of the one just layed.
In other words: a blue five has been laid. The trump is red. The second player plays a red three (for now it is they who lead). The third player places a green three. The trump changes in favor of the green school. So it's this players that lead, for now.
It can be even more cunning. If we take the previous example. The third player leads with their three green (become trump). The fourth player plays a blue three. As a result, the asset changes color (in favor of blue) and the first player becomes the leader of the next hand.
This simple twist makes it possible to invigorate the parts and reversals of situations can occur at any moment. Of course the more numerous you are, the more these situations will be able to multiply.
In addition to that, each card does not earn the same number of points at the end of a round. Some like the "eight", will even lose points to those who own them. Be careful when you pick up tricks. We also talked about the presence of a "zero". At the end of a round, the zero is worth zero points ... unless the color of the favorite school at this time is the same. And that's five points in the pocket!
Your simple Trick Tacker becomes a game much more cunning and clever. The game is really fluid. Simple in the rules and in the implementation, it promises a lot of twists. Of course, the more players there are, the more interesting it will become. Below four players, the game can be played but the surprises and twists will be less. It will be more about the classic, a race to one who will avoid the "eight". It will become a little less replayable. At more player, you have more possibilities and more fun. It is also possible to play as a team. The game then takes on another flavor. Smart and well thought out, this little game can make you happy like a big game.
The system of what could be called the double trump: the color but also the number, offers you the opportunity to get out and upset the established order. It creates tension and good laughs.
Available in two editions, basic and deluxe, the composants are really quality. The cards are very pleasant to handle and resist time and touch. The author also thought of inserting in his box the means to turn your game into a travel game. It is a very laudable intention and it works pretty well. Big plus too, the price, it is not expensive. It is in line with its category, despite a quality of material well beyond the standards. Variations of the game exist, play in teams, but also other unofficial, like count the points after each round.
The game is however not free of defects. It’s weak point will be in the games with less than four players. It could even in some configurations look long and repetitive. Turnarounds or negative cards are few. Be careful, I'm not saying it's bad, just that it's not with this configuration that it reveals its potential and its true interest. Graphics can also sometimes work against it. For a family game, some families can see the presence of blood (even cartoonesque and not in the sense of gore) of an evil eye. But to limit oneself to that would be to miss a good set of Trick Taking with original mechanisms. The theme is also very quickly forgotten. Afterwards for a game of this category, it is often difficult to incorporate a theme that is very end-to-end.
In teams or with many players, Gorus Maximus will be able to entertain you. Multilingual (including English), if you like this genre, it would be a shame to miss out.
Technical Note 8 / 10
The quality of the cards is really great, they are very pleasant to handle. Poker chips add a refined touch. The material is good. The transport box (premium version) is very well thought out.
My BGG Score 7 /10
(Good to play)
Easy to play, easy to carry everywhere, for all types of players, smart and fast. Be careful when you play it in the right configuration to make the most of its flavors.
Combined score 7,5 / 10
And Now, it's your turn...
Coimbra (2018) review
Eggertspiele was one of the editors to watch at the last Essen show. Shortly after, the German publisher, freshly absorbed by Asmodée, released two games that aroused the curiosity of the players: Blackout Hong Kong (soon on our shelves) and Coimbra. The latter has been available since the end of 2018 and it is only recently that I found myself on the ramparts of the old Portuguese city, transforming myself into a patron wanting to give the town all the splendor it deserves.
Coimbra is a typical German management game. It stands out for its own, very colorful graphic style, which contrasts with the usual brown productions. Its authors are not the first ones since they collaborated for one to Lorenzo Il Magnifico and for the second to Grand Austria Hotel. With Coimbra, they’ve signed here, one of the best management games of the year.
The principle of the game will be to score the most victory points after 4 rounds. The player boards are remarkably well done since they allow to follow the order of the different phases of the round. They also manage the different elements of the game: the resource tokens (gold and guards), the dice bases and the citizen cards recovered during the game.
The main board is composed on its left side of 4 dice positioning zones. There are 4 colors of dice in Coimbra, corresponding to the 4 influence tracks in the game. After having rolled all the dice, in turn order, the players will choose a dice of color that they wish, placing into one of their 3 bases, to then place it in an area of the city.
The upper part represents the Citadelle, an area where the dice are placed in the order of arrival and increasing value. The other 3 zones represent the districts of the city, the dice are placed there also in the order of arrival, but decreasing values this time.
After placing them on the board, each player will pick them up, in the order they are positioned. For the Citadel, each player will collect one of the bonus tiles and earn the bonus listed on it. For the rest of the city, this is where the value of the dice becomes important. Because it represents the cost to recruit a citizen. Each is endowed with a gold symbol or guards. These are the two commercial representations of the game (wealth and influence) and the salt of Coimbra itself is there: to best place your dice, giving you the power to buy citizens without it costing too much. And the other players will not be happy with that!
And would it be a surprise to say that citizens strengthen your power over the city? At the acquisition, each citizen earns you a few points on one of the four influence tracks of the game. They also allow you to trigger immediate gains to earn extra points at the end of the game or use their special action during income.
This is one of the last actions of the turn, by returning the dice, it activates the tracks of influence to earn income: gold, guards, and victory points. The fourth influence is more specific. It earns travel points for your pilgrim, traveling from monastery to monastery on the map of Portugal. By reaching the places of pilgrimage, discs of your color are placed on the monasteries, to signify your passage. The majority makes immediate point, while the others earn permanent bonuses.
After 4 rounds, the game is over and the final count is done.
And that's all?
Not really, you must add the basic game elements such as, points on the tracks of influence, points based navigation maps, monasteries triggering phases of counting. Classic elements for a management game.
Coimbra is absolutely a game to test. Because for a game of this type, it brings really new and interesting mechanisms to your table.
The use of the dice is really important since they will be played for their value, then for their color. The roll at the beginning of turn is essential since it will guide the choice of the players. Is it better to take a color before there is no more, knowing that its value is not interesting? Choose another color? Each choice is essential because in all and for all, each player will choose only 12 dice throughout the game!
Coimbra brings a real freshness in the style. Already a graphically colorful game and with well thought out materials. The bases are in a soft plastic that fits perfectly dice. The game board is divided into 4 distinct areas with excellent readability. The illustrations are successful and stick perfectly to the colorful side of the rest of the game.
The game is really different from one game to another and offers crazy replayability. The setting up makes that the area of pilgrimage completely different from one part to the other. Even if all the citizen cards will be played, their positioning will also be totally different from one game to the other. And most importantly, the turns of play vary completely because even if it is always the same colors of dice which are launched with each turn, their values will greatly influence the choices at each turn.
Coimbra is one of those games that you dread to present too much, as it can seem complicated. And finally at the end of the first round, everything seems so fluid, clear and logical. You must not lock yourselves into a single strategy, but scrounge all the possible points according to the possibilities that are always open. The final count is really crazy because it allows great returns, thanks to majorities on the tracks of influences and the points on the travel cards. Go on this adventure, you will not regret it!
Technical Note 8.5 / 10
Quality material, a very successful thermoforming and a good homogeneity to the graphics. The rules are easy to read and understand. Unfortunately once again, the storage is not suitable for card protectors and the same illustrations are used for different cards.
My BGG Score 8/10
(to be reserved for expert gaming players)
One of the best management game of 2018. By creating a clever use of dice, Coimbra offers a new and refreshing gaming experience. The game is tense until the final count that can reserve a turnaround.
Combined score 8.25 / 10
Expert players, to test eyes closed, except for the reading of the rules.
Help always comes from the unlikeliest places. And I wish that, many years ago, I had asked for it. Although, my French was not to the level as it is today. If it was, Guilou would have been in many of my videos. And Arnauld would have too…
Arnould is another hairy face French chap, from France believe it or not. And he has offered to help review games for the website. He already helped me playtest a majority of Kickstarter prototypes over the years and he is keen to write about his gaming experiences. If fact, he has published a number of articles in the French magazine “Ravage.” And he has kindly offered his unpaid services to us. SO, here to give you a little gaming background on themselves is the new member to the team:
I met Barry a few years ago. How many, I could not say? We were at the same gaming store in Reims, which organized a monthly game night. He had arrived quietly with his wife, settled at a table and opened up the game Pastiche, that I did not know Adam or Eve about. Who was this character, with a strong English accent that conquered the French kingdom of games!
I considered myself an old wolf. Beginning with role playing at school, I walked the dungeons in search of dragons for 9 years. My brother then bought me my TRUE board game: Talisman. The Gallimard edition, in a plastic box. It still stands proudly on my shelves.
The years at college met the arrival of Magic the Gathering and a few years of duels. Then the integration of a new group of players and the return of role playing, more contemporary, darker, like the 90’s. We decided to launch into game with miniatures. A small French publisher has just started a skirmish game, it's the beginning of Confrontation. Nine years for me, I join the heading Confrontation of the SDEN until the death of the publisher in 2007.
So I immerse myself deeply into board games, that I practiced only rare occasions. Twelve years later, my shelves are full, Essen is the meeting place. Rather adept of the famous Germans, my revelation in Puerto Rico. A fluid game, pure, without luck. But I do not spit on the good games with figurines and buckets of dice. Scripted games, with the idea that more and more games tend to get closer and try to reproduce the spirit of RPG’s.
And Barry in all this? He was there on the way. We talked to each other on a shared our passion. And from time to time we play. He shows me games, I look at others. I play to win, he plays for fun. By chance, I get to write my first article for Ravage, then others. But it's not a rule to keep a blog or to write for a channel. I told him that if he needed a little article from time to time, just say it. And here I am!
Another trusted friend joins us to create a more dynamic team. Hopefully sometime soon, all three of us will get in the same room at the same time and produce more content for you. Maybe a video...
Village Attacks (2017) Review
Quietly installed in your sinister castle, you make the most of your days off with your friends. You chose this place to settle because there is no one around. The city and its groups of adventurers thirsting for demonic blood, you were a little fed up with. The announcement of the agency was not wrong. Here, it's calm. No flocks to eat, no young maiden to bewitch, no villagers to terrorize, no warriors who come to wreak havoc, no long speeches or boring prayers ... In short, a well-deserved retirement for you and your confreres. Well, that was before. Yes, because it is well known, if you do not go to religion, religion will go to you. An itinerant priest who heard about your presence in the county managed to blind the crowds in the surrounding villages. So much so that for reasons that belong only to them, they all got pissed off and began to recruit adventurers eager for glory and blood.
All this happy little world is headed upside down to your home. The torches are lit and raised very high. At the sound of the pitchforks, the slogan is simple: "We do not want any guy like you here, cromme de diou!”, “The monsters in the others! "... and then in the middle of course you have "Vade Retro Satanas!". You understand, the atmosphere is slightly darkened. And it is not the fire that extends from your stables in the distance that will reassure you. No need to deceive yourself, considering your species, it will be difficult to convince them that you come in peace. There is only one thing left to do, to defend yourself, even to diminish the neighborhood.
Village Attacks puts you in the shoes of often likened to the evil supernatural creatures, a bit like a Dungeon Lords or a Dungeon Keeper (for the older ones). Here, even if you have the appearance of a villain, it is ultimately you who are attacked by masses of peasants without fear and without scruples accompanied by fanatical adventurers.
Village Attacks is the second game published by the publisher Grimlord Games (Endure the Stars), following the success of a Kickstarter. The author Adam Smith had fun to reverse the traditional roles without upsetting things.
Village Attacks is therefore in the vein of "Tower Defense". The "Tower Defense" is a style of play (especially prevalent in the video game) that invites you to protect a place against waves of enemies, more and more numerous and difficult. In addition to your hero, you can also use traps or turrets to protect yourself. Village Attacks draws a lot from these models in its mechanisms. Except that here, there are no turrets. You will have to rely on your supernatural talents, your group cohesion and possibly some traps.
In turn, waves of enemies will sweep through the castle. They will have only one goal, to reach the heart and destroy everything. If on the way they can knock you out, they will not hesitate. To prevent them, you will take possession of one of the characters available in the basic game: Vampire, Banshee, Liche, Succubus or Headless Horseman. Five villain / hero, so five possible players in this fully cooperative game. Casting level, we remain in the classic that it is in the diversity but also in the visual of the game. It will be necessary to wait for the extensions to even appear more exoticism.
Knocking on your door are the unleashed hordes, composed mainly of peasants, but also hunters and heroes who are much more experienced and effective. But the numbers do not scare you. You have been practicing for centuries now, so managing a local population should not be too hard. We can’t lie, the peasants are weak. But their numbers can make the difference. Be careful not to underestimate them. They are clearly not there to have tea. The enemies are spawned through a card deck. The AI is not the most elaborate that we have had the opportunity to see, but works well. The challenge is present and the random appearance of the opponents adds to the replayability of the game.
Ambience level, this is Ameritrash, in the spirit at least. The theme is very much anchored in the game.
The castle is represented by tiles, modular according to the chosen scenario. The tiles are very beautiful and quite detailed. The colors chosen change from usual and give a warm look (for a monsters hangout, it’s beautiful no?).
The castle will evolve over the 10 scenarios available in the basic box. To be honest, if you're a regular player of this type of games, there will be really only five or four interesting scenarios. The rulebook is well written, there are few questions and little backtracking to be done. During the game, except possibly for the first, the need to go back and forth in the booklet is not felt. For the scenarios, they put you in the mood gradually. A bit like Andor, you’ll discover the rules as and when. Playing kind of a tutorial, Village Attacks seems inspired by video games. You’ll learn new small rules while playing. This allows not to be too submerged in the first part. This tutorial works pretty well and can play quickly with any type of audience. The more you advance in the story, the more the difficulty increases.
There is not really any story. There is no real campaign mode or general history. It is a set of scenarios totally independent, with the potential progression in the addition of the rules. Basically, you are nice monsters, well settled at home and attacked by waves of furious mad men. You only want one thing, to protect yourself. It's in your right after all, right?
A group of heroes who must survive against hordes of enemies, led by a master card deck over scenarios all more or less different. Does it not remind you of anything? In some ways, Village Attacks may be reminiscent of Zombicide. Finally, after playing, we found little common points, apart from the management of enemies and the simplicity of the rules. Village Attacks differs a lot from its predecessors by both its theme and its realization. You are facing a real "Tower Defense" game system. Apart from the absence of turrets, you’ll find all the mechanisms of the genre: traps, heroes more and more powerful, waves of enemies, weaknesses / strengths, improvement ...
Furthermore, players must cooperate. The synergy between the monsters is a very important thing and offers the greater interest of the game. Everyone has their abilities but also weaknesses. Weaknesses that another can overcome. Each monster has three special abilities, each of which can be upgraded once. The improvement is based on the experiences gained by killing opponents. The creatures come from three possible types: the Decimator (no he does not take the tithe) which is there to clear the ranks opposite, the Guardian who has more vocation to slow down the hordes and Supporters who have the function to heal the allies and corrupt the peasants (yes it's very video gamey). It's important to choose your characters based on the others. Be careful, there can only be one Decimator and one Guardian per game.
Your enemies will not stop coming to your castle to destroy you. For them, it's a matter of life and death. They will become more and more numerous. Their way of acting is quite simple. Their goal is the heart of the castle, so they will always move towards him. If by the way, they punch you down, why not?
There are little archetypes in the fighters: those who move normally and attack hand-to-hand, those who shoot at a distance, those who have small abilities that go well, those who are a little faster ... The opposition is represented with all different traits. The cards determine which type of enemies come into play each turn. When it comes to a hero or a hunter, you will dig into a cloth bag to know this Nemesis (each token in the bag corresponds to the symbol of one of the monsters in play). The Nemesis system is really a good idea. Depending on the color drawn, the attacker will be more effective against the monster of the same color. In return, if the Nemesis manages to kill them, they gain more experience. This adds a little tension and thematically it fits perfectly. Once the invaders reach the heart of your home, it takes damage. When all life points have been lost, the castle collapses and you with it. Like the portrait of Dorian Gray, you are immortal as long as the castle remains standing.
But before playing all these little freaks, the monsters can try to defend themselves. The way players will be able to act is one of the originalities of the game. The ability to cooperate with your monsters and to overcome the shortcomings of each one is really one of the most interesting points. In turn, you roll six dice. These are special dice with different faces. Each face corresponds to a possible action. Each monster has slots that can accommodate the dice on their character card. Not all cards provide the same facilities or capabilities. So, you'll have to deal with it. To vary the teams of monsters is to vary the pleasures and especially to offer different game experiences each time.
Unlike other games, make a bad roll does not necessarily penalize you ... Unless of course you only roll villagers. If you have three identical symbols, you can re-roll these three dice. Once. Free. You can even move by spending a dice of any face. I would even add that you can reserve dice for later. It's not so easy. Because as I told you before, each character has a card with unique locations. A slot allows you to put a die on it. So be careful of your personal limit. Of course, you can not go beyond that. For the other dice, you’ll find basic actions, common in many games: the melee attack, range attack, the magic, the riposte ... I immediately see the allergies dice cry scandal. So already, what are you doing here? Damned! No that's not it, come back!!! Chance is present, yes, but it is a random chance with regard to the actions. There is always the possibility of doing something. Same with the attack and the defense. No superfluous chucking. One touch equals one key (in order of priority). The defense is done automatically. Nothing is too much.
While I'm here, I told you about the traps. Traps can save you life effectively or at least facilitate the release of your dungeon. But for that you have to buy them and put them in place. Of course, you will have to sacrifice dice. Perform an action or set a trap? That's the question. When is it better to do one or the other knowing that in the end you are limited in what you can achieve. A powerful monster yes, but fairplay. The use of traps is again simplified. You buy it, you put your card in a room or a corridor, it triggers (most often) at the end of the movement or when the peasantry enter the room in their phase of displacement. Everything is indicated on the map. Nothing complicated. Traps used at the right time can play a vital role. It also brings a good dose of immersion. I think of a game like Orcs Must Die or Dungeon Defenders.
In terms of components, the box is well filled. There could be more but it's not bad. The figures of the monsters are superb, as for the enemies the set is correct. The French version is correct and does the job well (despite some small misspellings but nothing crippling). The tiles are detailed and set the mood. You’ll also find all the traditional pawns galore. The illustrations by Fernando Armentano, Aleksandra Bilic, Björn Hurri and Henning Ludvigsen are very good and put in this atmosphere of Dark Fantasy. It's dark but not too much, making it all readable.
The big strength of Village Attacks is to propose a simple challenge. Simple but not simplistic. Everything is done to provide immediate pleasure. No frills, no overlays, no incessant return in the rules. It's pure fun. You can take the time to discover the subtleties as the tutorial or dive directly body and soul (or what is left of it) in the adventure. The game offers an ease of access rarely equaled for this type of experience. Moreover the theme is to respect even if, in view of the pitch, you could expect more madness. The material as well correctly puts you in the mood.
Village Attacks manages to give life to a genre little used in the board game: Action Tower Defense. The mechanisms inherent to this type of game are well transcribed. The installation is short (for this type of game) and does not cause any problems. Each scenario offers its playability, its way of winning or losing, its pleasure. Some may find the game repetitive mechanically but many parameters allow to offer experiences of different parts. The day / night concept is simple to install and makes the game harder or even tactical.
Like a lot of ameritrash, it is in the stories that the players tell themselves while playing that the game shows all its power. Stories offer a lot of black humor (like the one where peasants have to be eaten to win). The playing time can be quite long but we did not see it pass. Village Attacks offers a good alternative to any Zombicide-like while offering another challenge. Simple, pleasant, fun, original in some ways, I can only advise you. Replayability is quite important and you can modulate the difficulty as you please. If you like this style of play, do not hesitate for a moment.
Do you want more ? The basic game is already well supplied but if you are regular gamer, it may be that you ask for more. There are many expansions that offer diversity especially at the realm of monsters to play. Exoticism and originality when possible. None of them are essential but they are indispensable. This promises you many hours of game in perspective.
Technical Score 8.5 / 10
The monster figures are superb, too bad that those of enemies are a notch below. The illustrations stick well to the universe but I would have liked, given the theme, a little more diversity and madness. The material is dark enough to stick to the theme while remaining bright enough to allow easy visibility. And that's very pleasant.
My BGG Score 8/10
(Very good game- I like to play and advise him)
A game where fun is put forward especially through the simplification of everything that could have been complicated. The game is instant play and does not ask useless questions. A big part of the interest lies in the choice of monsters and how to make them work together better. The theme brings a little freshness. A game accessible to all and able to adapt to all profiles. The expansions renew the choice without changing the game a lot.
Combined Score 8.25 / 10
Now, it's your turn to play ...
Gravity Superstar (2018) Review
The first time I played Gravity Superstar, it was on the proto. A game for two, in full festival, a free table, a quick game, never heard of before ... I must admit that the magic did not take at the time. I had retained a memory of the nice mechanism but with some disappointing play or even a little boredom. When I was offered to play again, I thought “yes, why not”, just to see what the game really gives in it’s finished form. So is this article confirmation or a surprise?
Gravity Superstar is the latest Sit Down! Games, first published at Essen 2018. This rests in the family game range. Gravity Superstar is a game by Julian Allain. It offers you to dive, not in an adventure, but in a race to pick stars. Yes, it may seem strange. But the goal of the game is to pick up as many stars as possible. Armed with your spacesuit, you will go through this area of space from where the stardust comes. Do not be fooled, stardust brings points.
The principle of the game is both very simple but also quite original. The boards are constituted of squares. You will have to make travel actions with your little cosmonaut. Once the trip begins, you will not necessarily stay on the chosen square. Your character will be pulled down until they reaches a platform. Gravity does not leave you alone in this strange world. This concept is simple but really solid. It adapts very well to the mechanisms.
The game tiles are six in number, as are the number of players. Next, depending on how many playing, you will create the board with a specific number of tiles. Each tile is unique as well as double sided. The combination and variation of the game is quite important, which greatly promotes replayability. Once the Space tiles are selected, you will draw from a bag, the different coloured stars that you will put into play. For each game, there will not necessarily be the same colors and the same number of stars. Even more replayability. Stars have defined locations on the board. One last manipulation, the "open door" pawn is put on one of the random doors locations (each tile has one drawn) and here you are ready to play. Simple, effective. The installation time is very fast.
The first player takes their little astronaut and places them on the open door. On your turn, you can perform one of three actions available.
There you go. Simple no? That is where the game is clever, it is in its system of displacement. As I told you, the gravity is very strong in this remote corner of the galaxy. So, when you move, you will be pulled again by your cosmonauts feet to the nearest platform. Even if it will take you through a good part of the board or sends you off the board and make you reappear on the other side (as PacMan does). Watch out for unexpected shots. The position and orientation of your cosmonaut are essential.
So yes we walk, it's nice ... but what's the point? During the installation, you’ve set up the stars. The goal of the game is to pick up the most. Or more exactly, try to recover pairs of stars of the same color. A star will bring you a point, two stars of the same colors a bonus point. To get these stars, do not worry, it's automatic. When you move or fall (towards the next platform), you will recover all the stars you pass. But that's not all. Sometimes you go through empty space or spaces with a small pink symbol on them. Good when the box is really empty, nothing happens (surprising? Not actually). On the other hand, the small pink symbol corresponds to the big disks that you have prepared next to the board. These discs once in your possession, either will bring you a point at the end of the game, or will allow you to replay a new turn (once a maximum per game). Smart. The end of the game comes according to the number of stars that remain in play at the end of a turn.
The first thing that catches the eye once the game is installed is the components. It's colorful, enjoyable to manipulate, pretty. Gyom's illustrations are in a rather childish style but it works with the rest. The cards are very sober, abstract but it makes the actions defined very clear. One could ask the question about some graphical choices like: why are they creeping plant for the platforms? Or, why medieval doors? But you’ll move on quickly. The rules are well written and the whole iconography is practical and easily understandable.
Once the game begins, the turns follow each other fairly quickly. Depending on the number of players, you will not necessarily think the same way. A three, but especially two, will feel closer to an abstract game. Your choices will be more thoughtful and optimization more important. This is closer to a game like Booo! or Ricochet Robots. On the other hand from four players and up, the game takes another mood. The interaction is stronger and the race is both more tense and more fun. You will then be even more tempted to pursue the others. But why do such a thing? The reason is simple. If on your way you meet another player, you expel them from the board. They will reappear through another open door. Icing on the cake, you can also steal a star. Who said that the race for the stars was something of fairplay?
Adaptation is essential to this game. From one turn to the other, everything can change, especially during games with more than four. You are in a game of atmosphere with a small dose of optimization. But do not imagine that your plans will necessarily unfold without addiction. Oh no. Especially if you play between other adults. But children are not left out. In addition to the pseudo educational aspect that the game can bring (representation in space, left and right, displacement), the game is very accessible and very fun for the younger kids. From 7 years (below there may be the risk of being a little lost with the gravity system), young and old can meet around the table and chain games.
Gravity Superstar is finally a nice surprise. Simple to explain, quick to install, it allows grouping young and old around a table with a good ambiance but with the possibility of having a lot of cunning. It's really a game to advise from four. Below it remains playable, but loses a lot of its initial interest (it becomes more abstract and potentially more computationally). The editing work is very good, the material chooses immediately attracts the eye. With its little PacMan side and super-smart attraction system, the game can entertain you for a multitude of games, especially between or with younger players. Between adults, the game will be fun, it's undeniable, but you may move on quickly. The system of choice of action based on played cards can also serve as a learning to the youngest in the management of their hand and its proper use at the right time.
Gravity Superstar is a surprising game. Very nice to play, it gives a chance to any type of player. Even if there is no real luck in the game, the system is made in such a way that anything can happen. The possibilities of travel are sometimes so unpredictable that one can be led to see their strategy reduced to nothing or to be ejected from the area without realizing it. This aspect is really nice, especially if you play with younger players because it can put the odds on a par and allow everyone to have fun without feeling down or being too frustrated.
At the limit of the party game, this game of atmosphere will offer you your moment of glory following a well placed shot. The strategy will vary depending on the number of players and will gradually be replaced by opportunism and the possibility of a better overview. Chaos can easily grab the game for your greatest joy. It is possible to achieve good combinations of movement if you know how to be patient or that others let us do. The replayability is quite important thanks to the variation of the positioning of the tiles and the arrangement of the stars. Gravity Superstar is a game to put in all hands. Player or not, in the space of one game you will have a lot of pleasure. And maybe you'll be asking for one again without hesitation.
Technical Score 8/10
The material is pretty, pleasant to handle. Visually, it attracts immediately. Cards even if they have very (too) sober illustrations are easily understandable. The illustrations may be too childish or too smooth. For the rest the tiles are good quality.
My BGG Score 7/10
(Very good, fun to play and advise.)
Simple in the rules, quick to install, cunning, with a simple mechanics but really well thought out, the game offers a strong replayability and good times of fun especially to many.
Combined Score 7,5/10
And now it's over to you ...
Barry's First Impressions
I was captivated by this game simply by it's design and mechanisms. It had a feeling of a turn based computer game, a bit like Jet Set Willy meets Pac-Man. And with its very quick explanation and simple rules set, I was easily invested in the game. Which was a lost cause because I was playing against Guilou, and he always wins. But unlike him I enjoyed my first playthrough at a festival and found it something that my family could quite easily demand to play again and again. Although I have reservations about the replayability. This would only come from the challenge of the other players. Or maybe from an expansion which will include a jetpack that thrusts your cosmonaut a few spaces further but comes with a limited supply of fuel.
Having not seen the full final version, I could not tell you much about the components, as with all prototypes the quality of cards and the stars were ok for demoing. I am eager to replay this, purely for the reason of having fun with my family and maybe introducing it two friends who don't play board games.
DANY (2019) review
Hello, my name is Dany. No. I'm not the Shining's little boy, he's spelt with two "N's". This is not the same. Ok, we have almost the same problem ... No, my father did not try to kill me and I do not live in a strange house (though ...). But like this little boy, I hear voices. The number is quite variable, I grant you. This can range from 3 to 8 votes each time (including mine). Imagine a little overall cohesion. I'm afraid. At first I thought it was my imagination, a bit like a personal Jiminy Cricket. Except that I do not necessarily feel that they act for my good. I even hear them plotting together to "take the power". They want to exist. And if they exist, I’ll disappear. And that is a scenario which, strangely, I do not wish to see realized. I have to fight. To interfere with them. Make them believe that I am with them and force them make mistakes, that will give me back the power. It's risky, I grant you. But I do not have a choice. It's them or me. And I absolutely do not want it to be them. My mental health is in danger and I can not lose. You understand him, eh Tony. The fight will be tough but finesse. I do not have to be unmasked. But ... I have to push them to error. I have to go, they’re arriving. Wish me good luck.
Dany is the first game of a young publisher, GRRRE Games. But it is also the first game of a young designer: Phil Vizcarro. In fact, it is his first edited. Hollywood Death Race is his first achievement. This Kickstarter project has been funded successfully (unfortunately I missed it) and should be available in 2019 (date is undetermined). Phil Vizcarro is a passionate author of the 80’s and all things geeky pop culture. It is felt in his way of presenting things but especially in relation to the chosen themes. Overflowing with ideas, he is a young authors to follow. I think that his games will bring a little "freshness" and a sense of nostalgia at the thematic level.
Dany is a funny game. A pure party game with communication at its heart. Dany is an individual, normal except for the fact that he is regularly invaded by voices trying to take control. No peaceful cohabitation. There are two camps and only one can win.
Rules of the game are simples.
You’ll receive a role’s card at the beginning of the game. So you'll be either Dany or one of Dany's inner voices. Depending on your role, your goal will not be the same. Dany must win alone while the voices must cooperate to defeat him.
In turn, there will be an active player. This player will have a word that they need to covay to the rest of the group. This comes from a card composed of five numbered words. This card is visible to all. The active player will then pick another numbered card defining which is the chosen word for the others to guess. Of course, they are the only one to know this number. Then, in order to help in the mission, they will draw the first seven memory cards. The memory cards are double-sided. The front side always displays the same thing but can be used as a normal card. The back is composed of a black and white illustration, most often very abstract. The active player is now free to use these seven cards as they sees fit. They must select a number of these cards to use and put the others back in memory’s pile (which will lengthen or not the game). Once done, they must deal with what is left in their hand. It is strictly forbidden for this player to speak, to write a number with the cards, to mime, to point fingers, to throw them in the air or to use external elements. For the rest, they can very well hide portions of the cards, make 3D structures, align cards, position them as they wishes. The choice is the players and gives way to the creative imagination.
Once done, it is displayed for the other players. The interaction with the active player must be zero, at the risk of being penalized with a lost card. The others must therefore find which word is the right one among the selection. They have the right to discuss among themselves, to argue but no right to touch the work done or ask the active player for things (otherwise they lose a card). The nice thing is that the final choice is not made by the majority, but the player to the right of the active player, who will have the difficult task of choosing for the group. They can take into account the opinion of friends or not. Of course it's at their own risk. When the decision is made, check with the card number of the active player. Two situations can then occur. The answer is good, it will give a point to the vote. The answer is wrong, Dany wins a point.
The game continues until an end-game trigger occurs. If the voices get six successes, they win automatically and poor Dany disappears until the next game (quickly it is necessary to remake one!). If Dany gets three successes, or if there are not enough memory cards to refill a hand to seven, the game goes to the final twist. You thought Dany would win? Well, no, they are tough voices in his head. As often in games with a traitor, there is a final twist. Did you pay attention to the others during the game? Now, there will be a vote. Of course, you can negotiate, accuse, argue one last time between you before launching the final vote. But you have to find Dany. He is there, we know it, you know it, he knows it. After a countdown of three, all players must nominate the person who they think is Dany. If the majority chooses correctly, they have foiled the plans of the infamous unique personality and the voices win. If not, the voices cringe and poor Dany is free to regain his leadership ... until next time.
You will understand, the originality of the game does not come from its mechanics. We are dealing with a mixture of simple rules and already well known game mechanics. I could cite such games as Imagine, Werewolf, Linq, Fake Artist, Found Objects, ... The list can be long. BUT. This mix works really well. The word search and deduction side coupled with the presence of a traitor offers that little touch that makes it a game apart. Combine this with the presence of a theme and especially very original illustrations, you get a game with unique and unique identity.
The arts of Antoine Baillargeau are really original. This is sober design, in black and white, representing things mostly abstract. They will clearly not be unanimous and yet once in the game, they correspond to the thematic madness. Remember, that you are not individuals but flanges of entities that are based on memories. So, as everyone knows, a memory can be confused already when you tell it alone, so imagine telling the same memory to many. You will have strangely abstract things. The choice is daring but fits very well to the theme. We are far from the cute and colorful illustrations that you’ll find most often in this type of game. It can be confusing but it feels good. By the way, an image can have more than just a simple reading. The box itself, in a sober and refined style, does not leave you indifferent.
Dany is not a game to put in all hands. Although with younger players it works, the choice of words to guess and sometimes illustrations justify its prohibition below 16 years.
Games are fast. Guess words seem impossible in the first few games, and once the habit sets in, you get a better grasp of the memories and how to use them. Everything becomes easier to use. And that's where Dany's role gets harder and harder. He will have to bluff, but secretly, so as not to be unmasked. If that were to happen, you would be sidelined and the victory would seem impossible. Do not hide it, to win as Dany is hard, very hard. You will have to rely on the mistakes of others, encourage dissonances, rely on the accusation but all this anonymously and especially innocent. Dany's role turns out to be not only the hardest but also the most interesting to play. The pressure, how to find the weak point of the team and push them to the fault without being noticed.
The strength of the game is therefore in the theme and the illustrations, there is no doubt. But the mechanisms, less original, work well and fit well into this ambient madness. Dany is a game of atmosphere that can not leave you indifferent. Of course, I can only advise you to play a lot. Starting with five players, the game really begins to unleash its potential and the more you will be the more it will come alive and be fun. The interaction is very strong and the game is very fluid. You may of course, happen to be blocked to find a way to guess a word, but ultimately the limit being your own imagination, you’ll always find a solution. After the others come to understand you it's something else. Communication games are very present. They are trusted by mastodons. However, Dany manages to differentiate itself from others. This is not a simple copy but a game that has a real personality and a strong originality, if only in the choice of the use of cards. GRRRE Games and Phil Vizcarro strike hard for their respective first. Dany is a game of atmosphere which I can only advise you. An excellent party game for an informed audience. Will you be able to handle the stress of a Dany or will you have enough instinct of survival to go from the simple status of personalities to that of individuals? After all, do not we all have a Dany lurking in each of us?
Technical Score 8/10
Strangely, it was difficult for me to put a score. I am one of those who doesn't necessarily hang on the art of cards. On the other hand, I recognize the talent of the draftsman and especially the will behind this style. Finally, the style fits perfectly with the atmosphere and the theme. So, it seemed logical to assign a good rating. As for other cards, the text is clearly visible (written in large print), the cards are large and easy to handle. For fans of sleeves, I advise against doing so given the future use of cards.
My BGG Score 7/10
(good game - like to play it willingly)
The game offers an interesting strong experience. While based on known mechanisms, it manages to stand out from the crowd and to offer itself the luxury of its own identity. Well fun, especially to many, Dany will offer you a challenge and plunge you into the heart of the madness ... of your madness. A very good party game for informed public.
Combined Score 7.5 / 10
Now, it's your turn to play ...
Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
Barry Doublet &